Drama and Comedy
British humour under the Neapolitan sun,
in 'L'Elisir d'Amore' in Rome and San Francisco,
by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
When, on 3 November 2010, I reviewed the Venice production of L'Elisir d'Amore, I thought it was useful to recall that several opera guidebooks treat this specific work by Gaetano Donizetti and Felice Romani as a comic opera or even an opera buffa on the grounds that, during the decades when Donizetti and his operas were nearly forgotten, L'Elisir never left the repertory because it is pure comedy with two hilarious characters (Dulcamara and Belcore) and a gentle young couple in love (even though, almost until the end, she pretends not to be interested in the fellow); also the orchestration seems to be comparatively easy, as it used to be in the opera buffa canon. Nonetheless, L'Elisir is called by its own authors a 'melodramma giocoso', which means an opera semiseria like Rossini's La Gazza Ladra, Paisiello's Nina Pazza per Amore, Mayr's Lodoiska or Bellini's La Sonnambula. It was a category of musical theatre very popular at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Donizetti composed several semiseria operas, eg Linda di Chamonix and Il Furioso nell'Isola di San Domingo. The genre pleased the audience during difficult times (wars, revolutions, social and political turmoil) because it combines drama with comic relief...
Copyright © 7 February 2011